SACRAMENTO — As they announced the host cities for the start and finish in each stage of the 2015 annual Amgen Tour of California Monday morning, race officials stood on the steps of the State Capitol and spoke of the high caliber of cyclists who have competed in the first 10 years of what’s being billed as “America’s Greatest Race.”
But, they added, equally as important to the Tour of California’s success has been the natural beauty so often captured and broadcasted by high-flying TV camera crews in high definition, showcasing all the Golden State has to offer through “an eight-day postcard.”
And coming with that coverage, they noted, is the economic impact on cities and communities that serve as the event’s hosts. For the third time in the past five years, from May 10-17, Nevada City and western Nevada County will be among the California communities to benefit from the bicycle race broadcast to millions around the world.
“With literally hundreds of cities bidding and vying for a start or a finish, to achieve this for the third time in a matter of five years is pretty amazing,” said Nevada City Councilman Duane Strawser, who as owner of the Tour of Nevada City Bicycle Shop and organizer of the Nevada City Classic Bike Race — entering its 54th year on Father’s Day 2015 — has played a pivotal role in bringing the race to the community.
“It’s hard to quantify sometimes financially,” Strawser continued, “but I know that studies done by other cities our size in past years have shown anywhere from $700,000 to $1.2 million in residual revenue in our immediate area, as well as the surrounding sphere of influence. It’s massive.”
Sacramento will be the site of the Sunday start of the 10th anniversary of America’s largest cycling race.
“The eight-day stage race will travel a north-to-south route and span nearly 700 miles through many of California’s most breathtaking roads and sceneries,” officials announced in an early morning news release.
Nevada City will serve as host of the Stage 2 start Monday, May 11, when the peloton of riders will race out of town toward Lodi, which will serve as the finish of the stage in its first time as a host city for the tour.
The start will mark the third time Nevada City will serve as the starting line, with the previous two stints actually opening the entire race. In 2010, Nevada City’s first stage, pro riders like Lance Armstrong and his then-Radio Shack teammates Levi Leipheimer and Chris Horner pushed off from Broad Street in the historic downtown. The following year, Nevada City was slated to be along the second stage route, but after a winter storm blasted Lake Tahoe, the race again began downtown in the Nevada County seat.
“The city’s one of, really, just a few cities in California that’s a host, so it provides an opportunity for California, and really the world, to learn a little bit more about our community,” said Nevada City City Manager Mark Prestwich, who joined Strawser Monday in a peloton that literally rode onto the State Capitol’s steps. After drawing laughs for thanking the Sacramento Police Department for stopping the escort-led pack at several red lights, which allowed him “to keep up,” Prestwich extended an invitation to the region’s residents to the Stage 2 start.
“We have three million people in the Sacramento area that have an easy one-hour drive up to Nevada City and we’re hopeful that a lot of people will join us for the start of this race,” he said.
Among the professional riders on hand Monday morning was a cyclist who is no stranger to the Tour of California or Nevada City. Ben Jacques-Maynes, who has raced the Nevada City Classic several times — including a runner-up finish to Armstrong in 2009 — is the only rider who has raced in all previous nine Tour of California races.
“I’ve kind of grown up with the event,” Jacques-Maynes said. “I was a young cyclist when I did the very first edition; it was kind of an opportunity to really showcase myself as a cyclist on the great roads of California ... To grow up through this, and to have some good results, and to now be the longest-standing rider in the race is a great honor. And it feels like a fitting place to conclude my career as well. So this will be my last year racing and hopefully I’ll be included in the 10th event and be able to participate in that as well.”
Reflecting on his previous rides in the Tour of California, and considering the potential race courses yet to be announced, Jacques-Maynes said there are so many favorites to consider, it’s tough to say which routes in and out of host cities he’d separate from the rest.
“Having seen all the different options in these great cities that host the event here — big sprint finishes here in Sacramento, an awesome start in Nevada City a couple of years ago, some hilltop finishes in San Jose — there’s so many options available,” Jacques-Maynes said. “... Whichever way the course goes, we have great roads here, there’s so many options available in California ... It’s going to be spectacular, regardless, and I can’t wait to see exactly where we’re going to go.”
Regarded as the largest and most prestigious cycling event in America, 52 California cities have hosted the race throughout the past nine editions, according to a news release. For the 10th anniversary, in addition to Sacramento, Nevada City and Lodi, the 2015 Amgen Tour of California will travel through San Jose (10-time host city), Pismo Beach, Avila Beach, Santa Barbara, Santa Clarita, Big Bear Lake, Ontario, Mt. Baldy, L.A. LIVE (Downtown Los Angeles) and Pasadena.
“Since we launched the Amgen Tour of California nine years ago, we have strived to host the world’s top cyclists in a race that will not only challenge them as professionals, but will also provide a stunning backdrop,” Kristin Bachochin, executive director of the Amgen Tour of California and senior vice president of AEG Sports, said in the release. “As we look ahead to our 10th edition of the race, we’re certain the worldwide audience will be on the edge of their seats watching as the sport’s best men and women cyclists compete against each other in what is likely to be our most challenging and picturesque course ever.”
Contact Editor Brian Hamilton at firstname.lastname@example.org or 530-477-4249.
“Having seen all the different options in these great cities that host the event here — big sprint finishes here in Sacramento, an awesome start in Nevada City a couple of years ago, some hilltop finishes in San Jose — there’s so many options available ... whichever way the course goes ... it’s going to be spectacular.”
lone nine-time Tour of California competitor